Still No Bus Alarms

Release date: 20/09/2012

Frustrated drivers are still waiting for duress alarms to be installed on all Gold Coast buses more than 18 months after they were promised.

Gold Coast Bulletin Page 9, Mackenzie Ravn

In February last year, the Labor Government agreed to install the alarms after a series of violent attacks on the city’s bus drivers.

While all TransLink buses operating out of Brisbane have had duress alarms fitted, Gold Coast drivers are still waiting.

Yesterday public transport unions reignited calls for the alarms after another driver was attacked at Helensvale on Tuesday. About 3.15 pm four teenagers set upon the Surfside bus driver, hashing him in the face and smashing his glasses before pelting the bus with rocks.

The incident is the third involving Helensvale State High School students in six months.

Transport Workers Union Gold Coast organiser Troy Fernandez said the attacks had to stop.

"In the last 18 months I think I have been in front of the media speaking about an incident involving the attack of a bus driver at least 30 times." he said.

"There has been no commitment of dates from the Government as to when duress alarms will he implemented on the Gold Coast.

"I am getting a number of emails from bus drivers here on the Gold Coast who are wondering how this can continue to go on. It is completely unacceptable and nobody is doing anything." Mr Fernandez said the benefits of the alarms were clear with attacks on Brisbane drivers decreasing.

"These incidents are happening here on the Gold Coast and in places like Cairns but they aren’t happening in Brisbane and you have to stop and ask yourself why that is," he said. "It isn’t because these communities are more violent than Brisbane, it is just that Minister Emerson and this Government are not taking the security precautions seriously in the regional areas of Queensland." Assistant secretary of the Rail, Bus and Tram Union’s Queensland Branch David Matters agreed, saying the incidents were causing a bad reputation for the Gold Coast.

"It’s about the safety of passengers and the safety of drivers and it’s about the fad that the Gold Coast deserves better," he said.

"The Gold Coast doesn’t deserve the reputation of an unsafe and dangerous place, hut it is getting around the country that the Gold Coast is a violent place to travel." Mr Matters said he would like to see the Government change legislation to see a six-month mandatory jail sentence for people who assault public transport workers.

"There is already up to six months jail for fare evasion, so why doesn’t the Government feel that someone assaulting a driver warrants the same sentence," he said.

The driver involved in Tuesday’s incident is expected to be back at work by Monday.

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